Keep the Fires Burning No Matter the Heat Level by Deborah Bailey

Years ago, when I wrote short stories, I didn’t include love scenes.

I’d have the characters flirt and maybe have a kiss or two. But that’s as far as it went. Anything more was behind closed doors if the characters went that far.

When I wrote my first novel, however, I wanted to do more than mention their intimacy. I wanted to show it. Unfortunately, that presented another problem. How far to go? And when would it be the right time for them to go all the way?

It seems that every author has their own idea of timing. Should they have a love scene right away? Or should there be a slow burn? I think it depends on the story. There are times when one might be a better fit than the other. The scene should feel natural and not forced to fit.

Going for a high heat level doesn’t necessarily make for a better romance. About a year ago I did an informal survey of my readers to see what they preferred. Yes, a lot of them loved the steamier stories, but most readers said the story was the most important thing. They would be okay with less heat and a good story. In other words, the intimacy alone wouldn’t be enough to keep their interest if they didn’t enjoy the story.


How to Keep the Slow Burn Going

There have been quite a few TV series where the couples dated or flirted for a few seasons. Then when they finally hooked up, the show ran out of steam That never made sense to me. Why can’t the slow burn just keep burning?

Continuing to show the main characters in intimate moments should continue. It’s not just about the big sex scene (or scenes).

Here are a few ways to keep those fires burning all through the story:


This is a no-brainer. Conflict has to be at the heart of a story. But even if the conflict between the main characters has subsided for a while, you can use it to keep things interesting. For instance, in my lion shifter story, Family Pride: Blood Fever, the hero likes to resolve arguments by being intimate. The heroine gets frustrated because she wants to talk about the issues. Their attraction for each other keeps the heat level high, even when they don’t agree.


Little gestures between the main characters can be very sexy. Does he like kissing the back of her neck? Does she like touching him in places where he’s ticklish? These gestures can happen at any time, whether they’re about to become intimate or not. You can weave them into the story to show that they know how to please each other.


Maybe they’re so comfortable that they can be completely relaxed with the other person. Whether it’s snuggling on the couch or sitting together at the table. Holding hands as they walk or kissing before they leave the house in the morning. Small gestures add to the feeling that these characters know and have affection for each other.

If you understand your characters, and know what they love about each other, their gestures won’t feel forced. In the same way, their intimate scenes won’t feel forced. They’ll simply be part of their relationship and part of the story.

That way, whenever they’re together, it won’t stop the action. You’d be surprised how many readers skip over sex scenes because they want to get back to the story! Don’t let that happen to your characters. Have them show their affection and love (and lust) in ways that feel natural, exciting and help move the story forward.

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Latest release

Once Upon A Princess: Land of Dreams

Formula for Fairy Tale Love: 1 adventurous Heroine + 1 tortured-but-noble Hero = Happily-Ever-After.

In the rich and fertile land called Montrose, humans and creatures of magic exist together in a complex web of harmony…and deceit.

Willem was created of magic and trapped in the Land of Dreams by a curse in which he shared his gargoyle form with Eduardo. When Eduardo freed himself from the evil spell his jealous half-brother Erokan cast on him, Willem was given a new life. Now a gargoyle shifter, Willem meets Cicely, daughter of Lord Montrose. Everything he’s ever wanted is within his grasp. But he isn’t the only man who longs to capture her.

Aware Cicely descends from royalty and was hidden away as a child to keep her magical ability a secret, a mysterious stranger intends to bend the powerful fire elemental to his will.

Cicely knows she possesses magical ability. Falling in love with the courageous, self-sacrificing Willem may be the key to awakening…or unleashing…something formidable buried deep inside her.



Deborah A Bailey’s Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance stories include suspense, a bit of mystery and a lot of romantic heat. Her speculative f...